What is an ebook?
If you’re a copywriter writing for any type of B2B organisation, you’ll probably have been asked at least once to write an ebook. These modern successors to the white paper are used widely as top-of-funnel and middle-of-funnel content pieces – either to educate potential buyers on an issue they’re not currently aware of, or to show them how to tackle an issue they are aware of.
B2B marketing ebooks aren’t like the ones you read on your Kindle on the tube. They’re usually around 2,000-2,500 words long, produced in landscape format, with less copy on the page than the white paper of old, and more artwork and graphical elements to lighten the reading experience.
The tone is usually lighter too: accessible, fun and interesting, with conversational rather than academic language, and snappy headlines and subheaders to introduce key sections and points.
Three hallmarks of a great ebook
With so many companies now producing ebooks, it’s hard to write one that really stands out. There are three qualities that I think characterise a great ebook, and only one of them is down to the writing itself.
The first hallmark of a great ebook actually applies to all great B2B content. It’s really understanding who the audience is, knowing what matters to them, and understanding what they need from your content.
To make an impact, the ebook should pack an emotional as well as rational punch, and it’s hard to make an emotional connection with your reader if you don’t know who you’re writing for.
This is especially important if it’s a top of funnel ebook. Here, your aim is to make your reader aware of a problem or opportunity they don’t currently know they have – so you need to be able to relate this unknown problem or opportunity to something the audience does know and care about. That takes research, careful questioning of subject matter expert, and (ideally) a persona to work from.
Step #3: Organize Your Content
Organizing your ebook content in a way that is easy to read and understand gives an extra incentive to the reader to continue reading. To do this effectively, you need to think about all sections of your ebook thoroughly.
Main Body: the in-between sections are your key chapters in which you will explore the topic further. If you are writing about yoga practice, for example, you will need to explain what yoga is, the benefits of yoga, how the reader can practice yoga and what are the different yoga styles etc.:
Treat each chapter as a separate blog post so that you give them the appropriate amount of focus in context. Make sure that they connect well to one another and that the flow is smooth.
Conclusion: the closing section of your ebook needs to lead to a certain conclusion or results, and should always prompt the reader to carry out a task, e.g. visiting your page through a call to action (more on this later on).
To get these effectively on a Word document, we would recommend using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. When it comes to producing content and giving it structure, it is the easiest and most cost-effective tool to use.
Think of your ebook as a collection of blog posts bundled together. It should have a character and convey whatever needs to be conveyed without adding unnecessary details or unnecessary information.
Step #4: Design Your Ebook
All these tools have free ebook templates you can choose from. Simply follow the steps each tool describes to customize the design of the ebook to your needs and preferences.
In this article, we will demonstrate how to create an ebook with Canva.
In the example above, you will notice that we changed the background color of the original template, the color of the text in the title and its font – from League Gothic to Anton.
The key here is that your customization options are saved and so you get to remove or add any other elements that you want to have in your page e.g. stock photos or behind-the-scenes pictures, or any other visuals like infographics, direct quotes, statistical data etc., that can bring out the result you are hoping to get.
Before you finish designing your ebook, make sure that your ebook will be accessible on smartphones – Android or iPhone, tablets – iPad or Surface, desktop and laptops – Windows or Mac, and popular e-readers – Kindle, Nook or Kobo.
The back of the ebook is also a great place to sell so consider using it for discrete self-promotion of past or forthcoming books or related products or services you offer. But note the word ‘discrete’. You might find an ebook is rejected outright from important sales channels, such as Amazon or Kobo, if they think you’re promoting a competitor or trying to lure away their customers. After writing your blurbs, read the guidelines for each of your major ebook distributors to ensure that what you’ve written will comply.
Here are links to the formatting guides for some widely-used ebook conversion services. We’ll look at these and other services in more detail in the module on Production. These guides will provide you with more detailed information for each service. Each one is also recommended as a general guide to give you a better understanding of what’s involved in preparing manuscripts for conversion.